Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Relic Hunter 2009

It was announced recently that a certain Mr. Necat Selimoğlu has filed a petition to quash the serving - and presumably, the drinking - of alcohol from the Konyalı Restaurant at Istanbul's Topkapı Palace. In other words, he wants the restaurant's government issued & inviolably legal pre-existing alcohol permit torn into a million little pieces and strewn in the Bosphorous Sea. Or possibly the Sea of Marmara. Maybe even the Black Sea. I don't think his petition is quite that specific.

In any case, the
Topkapı Palace is just one of many sparkling jewels in Istanbul's jewel-heavy crown - whether you're a historian, tourist, or a cat-lover (there is a formidable herd of well-tended cats on the Palace's sprawling grounds) - a visit to what was once the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans for some 400 years is de rigueur. But what may no longer be de rigueur is a nicely chilled glass of Efes beer after a day gawking at, among other things, thrones, calligraphic manuscripts, porcelain and more diamonds than you can throw a stick at.

And why, you ask, does Mr
. Selimoğlu wish to snatch this not very guilty pleasure away from millions of visitors? Well, it would seem that among the sacred relics housed on site are:

* the Prophet
Mohammed's (pbuh) mantle
* the Prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) standard
* the Prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) sandal
* the Prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) cup
* the Prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) seal
* the Prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) footprint on a stone (my personal favourite)
* the Prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) swords & a bow
* the Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) soil which he used for ritual ablutions, and
* the Prophet Mohammed's (pbuh) tooth

Do you detect a common theme? Moses' staff, the forearm of John the Baptist (the head would have been really neat), King David's sword, and Joseph's (He of the Technicolour Dreamcoat) turban (the Technicolour Dreamcoat would have been far more impressive) are apparently kept on the Palace grounds as well, but their proximity to gin martinis and nicely chilled glasses of Efes beer doesn't seem to be rattling Mr. Selimoğlu too much.

Nope, it's the Prophet's
(pbuh) swag.

According to
Mr. Selimoğlu, the alcohol permit is a "curse" on the Holy Tooth. I don't know if he expects some divine retaliatory action taken against Turkey on account of this juxtaposition of tooth and tipple - apart from granting Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad and me residency permits - but he is seething with righteous indignation. The government is taking his petition seriously, (i.e., it's been officially received) presumably - and hopefully - because it has to. Turkey is not an Islamic country, its 99% Muslim citizens notwithstanding. And my limited understanding of all things Turkish suggests that the government likes receiving millions of tourist dollars tourists a year.

Needless to say, the restaurant's owner is less than enthusiastic.

I have my own opinion about relics of any faith - Calvin once opined that there are enough fragments of the "true cross" to build a sizeable ship - and I don't want this post to devolve into a fit of giggles debate about their authenticity and veneration.
(Tempting though it is.) No, this is about something more important: it's about liquor. And given that the Prophet (pbuh) himself is said to have said (to have said) that there are rivers of clean water, fresh milk, and wine - "delicious for the drinkers" (Sura 47:15) in no less than Paradise, then perhaps Mr. Selimoğlu's petition should be filled away in a manner which would have made those ancient file-pushing byzantine bureaucrats of Old Constantinople weak in the knees. Like under a mile-high stack of paper.


Cath said...

I'll drink to that!

Anonymous said...

Not to worry. Chances are the Turkish government will just file the petition in File 13.
Your better half will still be able to get his beer there.

Anonymous said...

Cheers and pbuh!